Tony Pua: Suspend poorly designed HIDE system before businesses are fully paralysed

Malls are closed from May 9-11 as part of HIDE requirement during MCO 3.0 at GM Klang Wholesale City May 9, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Malls are closed from May 9-11 as part of HIDE requirement during MCO 3.0 at GM Klang Wholesale City May 9, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 — Damansara MP Tony Pua called for the suspension of the Hotspot Identification by Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) system, citing deep flaws in the current system.

He said that malls and supermarkets were victimised by the data provided by the MySejahtera app, which shows congregation inside such places, but the fact remains places did not contribute to large Covid-19 cases. 

“We call upon the National Security Council and Mosti to immediately suspend the implementation of HIDE until and unless the deep flaws in the system are resolved with more intelligent algorithms.

“Otherwise, we can continue to expect malls to open and shutter every few days simply because they will invariably appear at the top of the HIDE list due to the volume of traffic as a natural result of their sheer size of operations.

“Unless it is the intent of the government to take this opportunity to victimise all mall and supermarket businesses across the country, putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work, the government must not hide from its terrible HIDE and do the right thing now,” he said in a statement today.

Pua, who is also the DAP national publicity secretary, said the government should have realised that something was amiss when the overwhelming bulk of locations listed by HIDE comprised major shopping malls and supermarkets although the historical data showed shopping malls made up less than 5 per cent of Covid-19 clusters as opposed to 48 per cent in factories and 11.6 per cent from the construction sites.

“If malls and supermarkets were at such obvious and critical risk of becoming Covid clusters, they would have become clusters a long time ago, and not only in the next seven days,” he added.

On May 8, three associations representing the shopping mall and retail industries nationwide, namely Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (Persatuan Pengurusan Kompleks Malaysia) (PPK), Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) and Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) urged the government to suspend announcing any more information derived from HIDE system until a clear, accurate and precise basis is accompanied with the information to be released. 

On the same day, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said premises including Ramadan bazaars listed under HIDE system as Covid-risk locations in the spread of the disease will be ordered to be closed for three days effective immediately.

Earlier the government had produced the first HIDE list of business premises identified as Covid-19 hotspots with potential risk to spread the pandemic.

The associations also emphasised and reiterated that the safety of shoppers is a top priority at shopping malls and with all required SOPs in place, including enhanced and regular cleaning and sanitation measures, malls are safe places to visit.

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